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This is the third of a three part blog series that does a high level overview of digital display programmatic buying industry and how programmatic direct buying has risen to a become a major player. To learn more about the history of display programmatic media buying, go to Part 1. To understand what programmatic direct is and how it fits into the display media buying industry, go to Part 2.

A plethora of technology platforms have embraced programmatic direct and created solutions for both publishers and advertisers alike. iSocket is the leading technology provider in the programmatic direct arena. Its solutions have APIs that allow easy integration, and work with demand side platforms (DSP) to sell reserved inventory on numerous publishers’ sites. They recently raised $5 million in funding with the help of Time Warner Cable Investments, which serves as a testament to the rapid growth of programmatic direct. Other industry leaders in the programmatic direct space are ShinyAds, which boasts large publishers like CBS and Askmen, and Adslot and Yieldex, which offered the first programmatic platform to adhere to the programmatic direct API industry standards.

September of 2013 marked the tipping point for programmatic direct’s onset into the digital display buying industry. Top web portals and digital giants Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft announced that they would “embrace programmatic direct technology to streamline their direct and ad sale processes.” Together they created a set of API specifications and agreed to adhere to these rules in hopes of defining an industry standard. On September 23, 2013, AOL hosted a “Programmatic Upfront” to pitch and sign advertisers on its top-tier inventory, and Yahoo followed suit and began privately doing the same thing. In April 2014, the DSP giant MediaMath partnered with Yahoo, Microsoft, iSocket, Shiny Ads and Yieldex and debuted a DSP software called TerminalOne, which includes access to both programmatic direct inventory and non-guaranteed inventory through RTB campaigns. MAGNA GLOBAL predicts that the massive momentum of non-RTB programmatic display buying solutions like programmatic direct will grow into a $3.5 billion industry by the end of 2014.

There are some critics of programmatic direct who claim that it will eliminate or reduce the need for publisher sales teams. However, Yahoo VP-Product Management for Display Advertising Dennis Buchheim begs to differ and states, “ad salespeople will welcome the shift of their roles from pitching products to consulting with advertisers on how to most effectively target and coordinate their media buys.” Eric Picard feels that the future of programmatic direct platforms will expand to allow buyer side publishers to submit their goals and reserve guaranteed inventory based on those specifics, and others believe programmatic direct technology will extend past traditional display media and programmatically enable video, print and TV buyers to have access to guaranteed inventory7. Regardless of what the future holds for programmatic direct, it definitely has and will continue to be a game changer in the media buying industry.